Thursday, October 22, 2020

Ultra-Orthodox leadership has failed its own followers ....

by Esty Shushan

Over the past few months, being an ultra-Orthodox individual in the public sphere in Israel has not been a pleasant experience. The coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a new reality with respect to the way the general public perceives Haredi society and the change – especially when people are already on edge – has not been for the better.

While no one could have predicted that the closed Haredi sector would be dealing with a global pandemic or the scope of the outbreak that has gripped it, recent events make it impossible for me to defend the ultra-Orthodox leadership.

There has been much talk recently about the secular and ultra-Orthodox sectors going their separate ways. Let the Haredim keep to their overcrowded cities – cordon them off during the pandemic and the rest of Israel could breathe easy, many argue.

But the problem does not lie within the Haredi cities. The problem lies with a broken, degenerate, political system, and that is the makings of the leadership chosen by the majority of the Israel public.

Many have always made it a point to remind the Haredim that they are a minority and therefore that it is more important to act wisely and pragmatically; to indulge the forces of mainstream lobbying with economic and political incentives so as to foster a "healthy evolutionary change."

But modern viruses do not spend millions of years evolving. They become biological and social mutations in a heartbeat, exposing the degenerate system for what it is.

This political system has produced relative quiet for Israeli leaders, as well as near-complete independence and absolute control for the ultra-Orthodox leaders.

Under the auspices of the existing system, initiatives promoting reforms in the ultra-Orthodox education system have been blocked, and the same fate befalls any attempt to improve the situation of Haredi women. The victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse are silenced and abuses in the workplace are allowed – and the list continued.

Power corrupts, and the ultra-Orthodox leadership has received unlimited power. True, most Haredi voters elected it, but under the auspices of state laws, Haredi cities were "red zones" long before the coronavirus pandemic made it all the rage.

This absolute power, however, was not used by community leaders to bring order into the chaos of the coronavirus outbreak. Yes, Haredi leaders are skilled in mobilizing voters to the ballots come Election Day, but they failed to use their power to stop the catastrophe that is slowly but surely killing off these voters.

The outcome of the Haredi leadership's decision-making process during the first coronavirus outbreak was terrible, but they could be chalked up to the uncertainty of dealing with something never before seen. But what happened during the second outbreak is nothing short of gross negligence.

Ultra-Orthodox leaders abandoned their constituents to the mercy of a deadly virus, as well as to the hatred of other sectors in Israeli society, regardless of how closely they observe the Health Ministry's guidelines. For Haredi society, this was a lose-lose situation.

Many may say this is a time for reconciliation – not criticism. I adamantly disagree. It is time for Haredi leaders to come to their senses, unpleasant as it may be. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are taught if the front door is locked you try the back door. If the back door is also locked try the window. If the window is locked then break the glass and steal whatever you want as the house is open.